Sanilac County home invasion suspect commits suicide in jail

Published: Nov. 22, 2017 at 4:44 PM EST
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(11/22/2017) - One of two suspects facing up to life in prison after a violent home invasion in Sanilac County early Sunday is dead after killing himself in jail.

Stephen Shimmel, 47, was found hanging in his cell at the Sanilac County Jail around 10 p.m. Tuesday -- hours after he was arraigned in court on 11 charges stemming from the home invasion in the 4300 block of Holbrook Road in Greenleaf Township around 5 a.m. Sunday.

Shimmel was facing a charge of assault with intent to murder, which carries a possible sentence of life in prison if convicted, along with 10 other charges.

After being arraigned on Tuesday, Shimmel was brought back to the jail and placed alone in a cell on the upper level. Sanilac County Sheriff Garry Bieiniecki said much of the cell is visible on surveillance cameras and officers make routine security checks often.

He said less than 15 minutes elapsed from the last time Shimmel was seen alive in the cell and when he was found hanging in a back corner.

After finding Shimmel hanging, corrections deputies and medical staff at the jail cut him down and immediately began life-saving measures. A Sanilac County EMS ambulance also responded to the jail to assist, but Shimmel was pronounced dead.

Detectives from the St. Clair County Sheriff's Office and the Sanilac County Medical Examiner's Office were investigating Shimmel's death on Wednesday.

"We are saddened by this unfortunate incident and offer condolences to the family," Bieniecki said. "We are working diligently to answer the family's questions with transparency and bring them closure."

Shimmel was one of four men who went to the residence, allegedly with the intent to rob the homeowner of cash and marijuana. The four men allegedly kicked in a door and entered the home while firing guns.

They were met by a person inside the house who opened fire on the intruders. One suspect died in the house while another was found dead in a car near the intersection of Holbrook and Germania roads.

The dead suspects were identified as Keith Saunders, 26, and Quantize Bruce, 20. Saunders and Jack were brothers while Bruce and Shimmel were acquaintances of them, according to police.

Shimmel and 30-year-old Preston Jack fled the car on foot, but were tracked down by a K-9 and arrested.

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